The idea of a store that sells cream puffs, and little else, seemed whacky to me. Giving it a weird name like, say, "Beard Papa," seemed like a formula for failure.
But then, I had one of their cream puffs (followed immediately by a couple more).
A cream puff is a puff pastry ball (made from pate choux, an egg and flour cooked batter, baked to puff up) filled with custard or whipped cream. In Beard Papa's case, the puffs are made from two doughs — a choux plus pie crust — in a patented process. They are baked in automated ovens. The filling, a pudding and whipped cream mixture, is injected just before you buy it.
The result is the cream puff perfected. Light yet eggy and flavorful, the shell has more crisp than most choux pastries, which I presume is because of the pie crust layer.
The custard is equally sublime. Most custards or puddings are too sweet and lack flavor. Beard Papa's tastes distinctly of very fresh dairy, egg, and vanilla — clear flavor notes, in perfect balance. I was surprised to find I prefer their vanilla filling (their standard) to chocolate. The chocolate flavor was very good but the vanilla product is so well balanced that chocolate wrings out the subtle notes that the vanilla puff held in such delicate balance.
They have just a few other products but their focus is on the perfect puff. I am glad to say I am wrong about a store that just sells cream puffs — you can build a franchise by doing one thing well. There is often a line at the stores, but it goes quickly since the production process is fast and simple.
Newly opened in Cupertino, Beard Papa has about three locations in the Bay Area with a couple more coming. They have many locations in Southern California and hundreds in Asia. Their website lists locations but it's not quite up to date.
Photos from Beard Papa's website.